“I Dont Dance” Is Unacceptable

I have a nasty little habit of walking into bougie East Village bars or large gatherings of NYU students (I feel conflicted about calling them parties), having a drink and then leaning over to a friend to say, “this place is too American/white.” What I mean is, regardless of the predominant nationality in the place, everyone is standing around, screaming over the loud and possibly very good music, trying endlessly to talk and talk and talk to each other. And let’s be honest here, situations like this tend to happen mostly with white people.

A guy will come up to us and crack a joke about my t-shirt, and I’ll smile nicely, because I’m a nice person, and he will inevitably take this as an invitation to keep going. He’ll ask me how I ended up at this party, where I live, what I do and he’ll buy me a drink. And the next thing you know, I’m nodding a lot while scanning the crowd, desperate for a 90-degree escape to another person, because I just can’t hear him and at this point, we’ve already lost too much between us to go back. The only way to go is out but some variation of the following hellhole always ensues:

He says: “I live in Midtown, just moved here from Minneapolis to become an account manager at McGarryBowen. What do you do?”

I hear: “’I see you drivin’ ‘round town with the girl I love…’ Wait, they’re playing ‘Fuck You’? It’s not even midnight! Shit, bartender, hurry up with my beer.

I see: I turn and look at him, looking at me with anticipation and a slightly creepy smile, which informs me that he just asked me something and, fuck, I’m expected to answer.

So I scream: “WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

He says: “What do you do?”

I hear: “Woud eksl wketo akla?”

I think: What an asshole, talking in a normal tone of voice and not even extending the courtesy of leaning in and screaming into my ear. I still have no idea what he said. Where are my friends? Is something wrong with my hearing? Why can he hear me?

So I say: “Oh, I live downtown, we know the DJ!”

He thinks: Huh? What does that have to do with anything?

He says: …Look, I’m sorry but I’m not sorry, but I have no idea what he says. But he definitely is saying something.

I think: What kind of fucking friends do I have, who would leave me here all alone with this guy, when I’m itching to bust a move?

I see: The bartender hands me my beer. His lizard-like lips are moving again…seriously, are you really still talking?

I say: “Do you want to dance?”

He says: “I don’t dance.”

I say: “I’m going to find my friends.

He says: “What?”

I shout: “FRIENDS! MINE!” As I scurry away, head already banging.

When I go out, there are only three things I want to do: drink, get laid and dance. And dancing is the most important on this list. I always, always want to dance, because there’s something wonderful about expressing how much I love my friends when we’re jumping around to Arcade Fire or how much I am down to take you home when I’m grinding to “You Can Do It,” a kind of something that words just cannot convey. I lose interest in someone as soon as they say, “I don’t dance”, because to me, it conveys a denial of an act that is intrinsically human, something that babies know how to do, and don’t think I didn’t catch your fingers tapping out this beat. If you can tap out a beat, you can dance.

I want to dance because I want to relax, I want to shed the week of sitting in front of a computer by feeling the motion of my arms, my legs, my fingers, my hips. I want to sway to a gentle beat, the melody drifting from my heart out to the tips of my fingers, and pretend as if I’m swimming in a deep blue ocean. I want to laugh at my friends and have them laugh at me, as we experiment with ridiculous, ridiculous dance moves that make us look as if we’re the Geico cavemen. I want to complete a spin, in perfect rhythm, and slide quickly into the next move, the exhilaration of the combination lingering in my center. I want to hit the break, punch the air, stomp my feet, whip my hair, pop my ass and feel the body that I’ve been blessed with.

“I can’t dance” is one thing. “I don’t dance” is just unacceptable.

Dancing is about not giving a fuck. My favorite person to dance with is one of my best friends, not because he’s the best, but actually because he’s one of the worst, technically. He’s goofy, sometimes stiff, sometimes weird, but goddamn, he will get down on the dance floor and whenever we go out together, people start dancing around us, because if we’re already embarrassing ourselves, what do you have to lose by dancing next to us?

Dancing is like everything else, if you’re going to do it, do it with confidence, complete that move with conviction. Dancing is visceral, full of emotion, of energy, of life. Stop talking, stop listening and starting feeling. Stop wanting to show off the move you came up with at home and finding excuses not to and just show it off. Stop trying to deny the rhythms that move you, stop trying to hide your insecurities with dancing by shouting niceties over the noise and just let go and boogie. There’s are countless reasons humans dance but the most important is that it expresses euphoria in the most honest, purest way we know, when “Dog Days Are Over” or “The Way You Make Me Feel” comes on and you can’t stop moving your limbs because you’re so goddamned happy you decided to come out tonight. It’s dancing that reminds me that, not only am I at this party, but man, I am here and I am really at this party. Simply put, it reminds me not that I’m alive, but rather, I live.

For me, I will dance anywhere, anytime, white NYU gathering or not. I’ll put my iPod in and dance until everyone is dancing with me or until everyone is staring at me and I understand if this isn’t for you. But don’t hold me back with your words when you see my leg twitching because in the battle between talking to you, Stranger, or dancing on my own…I will always choose to dance.

So, dance on. TC mark

image – Tambako the Jaguar


More From Thought Catalog

  • justmoveyourbody


    • http://profiles.google.com/isabelle.a.ferreira Isabelle Ferreira

      what an appropriate screenname :)

  • Kablaamee

    Despite never giving my desire to dance a second, or first, thought, this is what I meant. Thank you.

  • Pfft

    hahaha arcade fire! how much whiter could you get? you sound awful, and 22.

    • reyaizyu

      Haha I totally am 22, word

      • http://profiles.google.com/mopeyprincess mopey P

        I hope you stay feeling the same way about dancing into old age. It might not keep you 22 forever, but you will be less bored at parties for sure.

      • reyaizyu

        i don't think its ever about the genre of music by the way. it can be animal collective or rick ross or fleetwood mac or dipset. a good beat is a good beat.

  • http://profiles.google.com/isabelle.a.ferreira Isabelle Ferreira

    my mother gave me some really great advice when i was younger: “never marry someone who refuses to dance, there will always be something missing.”
    i live my life by this.

    • http://profiles.google.com/mopeyprincess mopey P

      So true! I finally met a man who I have amazing dance chemistry with (goofy, jumpy or oldschoolTupacgrindy, doesn't matter). I left my boyfriend of 3 years for him.

      • Aceb_99

        hahaha and you blame your serious and stable BF for being with such a mopey p looser as yourself?

  • Break up

    I once broke up with a girl I'd been seeing for a month 20 minutes after she mentioned she “Didn't Dance.” Unreconcilable differences.

    • Juliet

      Clearly. Specially if she knew how to spell…irreconcilable

  • Judi Huck


  • http://twitter.com/voutilad dV/dA

    As someone guilty of being that guy described…this has opened my eyes a little.

  • George

    Absolutely and unequivocally YES

  • Robert

    This is the way.

    Too bad an ocean divides us, because I would like to dance your worst-moves buddy.

  • ////////////////////

    honestly, you should just find friends that are into designer drugs and techno

  • http://fastfoodies.org Briana

    i don't like dancing. don't know what it is…it just makes me feel uncomfortable, awkward, and un-self-confident. even after 'a few drinks' when i have presumably 'lost my inhibitions', i still hate doing it. it seems so fake and so contrived. like when you're dancing to a song and the song shuts off all of a sudden: what do you do? keep dancing? snap back to reality (thnx eminem) and realize that without the music you're just moving weirdly and you look kind of stupid?

    what happens when you run out of 'moves'? all i really know how to do is grind because i studied the popular girls at middle school dances. and although grinding is appropriate at times, it gets boring. also it hurts your thigh muscles. i know you're supposed to 'just let your body feel the beat' and 'go with the flow' but like, i just can't do that. no matter how relaxed i am.

    i am a really confident person most of the time. i do all the self-love shit (http://thoughtcatalog.com/2011… and i wish i liked dancing. really, i do. but i don't. :-(

    • http://rebeccaaaa.com rebeccaaaa

      Why aren't we friends?

  • http://twitter.com/srslydrew Andrew F.

    Pshh. White people, amirite?

    • Greg

      @twitter-23721719:disqus lmfao…I haven't even read the post yet…but I trust this errant judgment

  • http://twitter.com/PFunkLange Patrick Lange

    I still think problem is bars where the music is too loud to hear people talking.

  • Afley

    jumping around to Arcade Fire” … sounds pretty white to me. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I'm just saying, aren't we all white (black, yellow, purple, green)?

    • http://exitclov.tumblr.com exitclov

      How the fuck does anyone do anything to Arcade Fire?

      • Dan

        Well you can nap to it…

  • Hotmail

    I'm still waiting for a man who prefers to lean back.

  • http://twitter.com/kyleangeletti Kyle Angeletti

    that usually just means 'i don't dance sober.'

  • bougie runoff

    It seems that “bougie” in this post is the east coast resurrection
    of “valley”, as in the narrator is a “bougie” girl. She goes to a noisy east
    village bar to dance, she complains about NYU and midwest transplant crowds alike,
    and she’s not really interested in talking (well, maybe complaining about all
    the talking in a post after the event). Have
    you considered just staying home and dancing there? Also, when you say “I want
    to sway to a gentle beat, the melody drifting from my heart out to the tips of
    my fingers, and pretend as if I’m swimming in a deep blue ocean,” are you sure
    you’re not referring to mdma?

    PS. your dislike of white people screams that you’re white

    • http://fastfoodies.org Briana

      every time you said “bougie” i read “dougie” as in “teach me how to”

  • natural

    I wholeheartedly agree, life is far too fragile to remain a wallflower past the 7th grade.

  • aa

    On the opposite side of this argument, I tend to not like and feel annoyed by people who advertise that they “love to dance.”

  • Thebirdcity

    you kind of sort of sound like a bitch. :

  • chelseafagan

    Hey, I take offense to the white people thing–take a moment to consider if she had written about a party where all the people were dancing around instead of talking and was like, “look at how black this party is, there are so many black people, what a black party–sorry black people, you're always like this.”

    Obvious racism aside, I disagree with this. I have been partner dancing (mostly swing) for six years and taught it for two, and I love dancing. It's social, fun, and a great workout. However, smacking into each other at a club is not what I would consider dancing, and I certainly wouldn't judge people for not wanting to do it (it's usually not my thing, either). If you're with someone for a long time and they don't want to dance and won't try even if it's important to you, fine, you can get mad at them for being too shy. But if someone you just met would rather talk to you than grind his penis into your back, I think it's a little ridiculous of anyone to demand it of him.

    • Jordan

      Two good points, especially the first one.

    • reyaizyu

      hey i don't mean grinding dirty, but rather the kind of dancing you would have fun doing by yourself at home, or any kind of dancing that makes you feel good. it's not something i'm demanding either, it's just a choice i'd rather make.

      to the point about white people, which is apparently a stickier issue than i'd thought, it's very much a sweeping generalization i like to make, purely as a joke, not as an attack. i apologize if this has been interpreted as racism.

  • reyaizyu

    for the record! i am not white!but i totally wish i were!

    • bougie runoff

      white/asian self loathing is the same thing. both are bougie. you wish you were?

      • reyaizyu

        haha no i dont, i'm a halfie. bougie is just short for bourgeoisie by the way. what are you?

      • bougie runoff

        I am REALLY bougie. Just like you, I imagine. I would change the title to “I'm Not Bougie” Is Unacceptable

      • reyaizyu

        Hahaha me too man, I'm inspired to write something along the lines of “I'm Bougie And It's Okay”, since I do things like spend too much money on scarves, too much effort on organizing my books and too much time on thought catalog. I can't help it! But it's okay.

      • bougie runoff

        It is ok. Although I think there can be an unhealthy sense of being bougie that can afflict those that become self aware and start hiding the bougie. Like a trust fund hipster who hides the scarves in his closet, or worse, starts stealing them.

  • star colonel kotaire

    i concur. the worst are people who don't dance because they think it's emasculating or some shit. no, you're at the club asswipe. dance. if we were in the 80s you'd be dancing; wait, we are re-living the 80s; urban decay, econ depression and loose monetary policy for lif3. also, FYI, it's really about self confidence. non-dancers, /fail

  • Candace

    Kinda feel thought catalog is irrelevant to me since i don't live in new york. kinda wish they'd write about other major cities/ urban areas.

    • chelseafagan

      They do write about them, and I'm pretty sure this article is not location-specific.

      P.S. I don't live in New york.

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